Abstract – Knight

Picking Persimmons before the Monkey Does: Volunteer Tourism and Crop Protection in Rural Japan

John KNIGHT (Queen’s University, Belfast)

This paper describes the phenomenon of persimmon-picking by tourists in rural Japan. In a period of widespread monkey crop-raiding, some Japanese villages attempt to tackle the problem by appealing to urbanites to come and help harvest persimmon fruit from village trees, with the promise that they can keep part of what they harvest and have a holiday in the countryside in what amounts to a form of volunteer tourism. Bright orange persimmons are highly appealing to monkeys in late autumn, and in recent decades have become available in large quantities as villages depopulate and fewer people are around to harvest the fruit. This is the background to outreach schemes in which city families come to the village to assist in bringing the fruit crop in. This paper describes these persimmon-picking initiatives, examines their impact on the crop-raiding problem, evaluates their prospects for boosting tourism, and compares them with other initiatives in Japan that connect tourism with the wildlife problem.